One expat working on the HIV/AIDS problem says that the number of people who will
die from AIDS-related health problems this year will be about 4,000, a total more
than all AIDS deaths in Cambodia since the disease was discovered. Next year deaths
are expected to be around 6,000, surpassing the Kingdom's current #1 killer - malaria.
Meanwhile, the National AIDS Committee meets about once a year "if they are
lucky" says the expat.
** Sophal from Reuters, who was on the helicopter that crashed at Preah Vihear, lost
his shoes and was given a pair of KR sandals by the local boys. He says he likes
them, the shoes that is. However, the green-capped boys at the temple are appreciated
by somebody. Journos who spent the night there say they heard the cadre talking to
their Thai girlfriends across the border - in Thai - on their radios.
** The rumor mill is abuzz with plans for a new Mel Gibson movie that may be shot
at the airport in Kampong Chhnang. An Oz film company has apparently signed a deal
to lease the airport for what sources say is a seven-figure fee per month.
The Ozzies have been in touch with Warner Brothers but nothing concrete has been
finalized. Michelle Pfeiffer's name has come up, as has the possibility of shooting
a "Mad Max IV" at the sight.
One Hollywood insider even speculated that Mel might be considering extending his
large career by taking on a new challenge and starring in "I've Got a Lethal
** Folks around town were puzzled by the one day, water shut-off last week, speculating
that the effects of El Nino had finally reached Phnom Penh. However, a meterological
analyst dismissed the rumors, stating instead that the problem was a result of the
much more localised "El Cambo" syndrome.
** Micool Brooke, who works for the Asian Defence Journal, wasn't fooling around
when he covered the return of Prince Ranariddh. Kitted out in a new, high-tech, bullet-proof
vest, Brooke was kicking off his election-related marketing campaign for the hardware,
which he guarantees will save lives. He also says that with some extra chest plating,
the vest can stop an AK-47 round at close range.
Micool wore the vest minus a shirt at Pochentong, but its unclear if this is the
recommended style. If it is, Micool may want to distribute all vests with some sun
block as his lobster-like skin made him the most visible target in town.
** If you want to find out what the plan is for the future don't miss the new publication
produced in English by the Cabinet of Samdech Hun Sen entitled "Cambodia New
Vision". To find out how to obtain the monthly publication, contact the cabinet
by email at <[email protected]> or call them at: 023-219-898.
** Sources say that high on the list of items for discussion during Samdech Hun Sen's
upcoming trip to Thailand in early May is the matter of the disputed off-shore border
with Thailand. The RGC is anxious for quick progress on the issue and hopes to sign
a Memorandum of Understanding with the Thais so that oil and gas exploration can
Experts figure that once the green light is given, the cash-strapped Cambodian government
could reap up to $100 million per year after the gas starts to flow which would take
about two years from project start-up.
The Thais, for their part, prefer a more ja yen yen approach to ensure that all legal
issues are hammered out properly. With gas now being produced from their joint efforts
with Malaysia, a gas pipeline under construction with Myanmar and a recently-signed
deal with Vietnam, they are in no hurry to move quickly on the issue and Hun Sen
is likely to return from Bangkok minus the MOU.
** The city fathers have come up with a great idea. You know the park in front of
the palace, the one next to the Renakse Hotel with all the hundred-year-old, resplendent
trees? Well, why not pave the entire park and make a parking lot! Brilliant!
** In response to "Which party do you like?", one moto driver in town said:
"I'll vote for anyone who can finally stop the fighting and get the economy
going so I can make some money."
** A Bangkok-based, English-language paper is still confused. A story by a reporter
written about Preah Vihear temple coming back under RGC control was datelined "Khao
Preah Viharn, Thailand".
Sorry! The temple is on Cambodian soil and has been since the World Court ruled on
the dispute in 1962.
** Ambassadors are scurrying around trying to find out which ones are going to see
the King when His Majesty returns from China on April 11. But nobody wants to get
left out so there's much checking back and forth between embassies. This time, at
least, the protocol dilemma has been solved as King Sihanouk has decided that he
will grant an audience to all ambos on April 17. The official word is that the King
will not be granting any audiences before then.